August 17, 2011 7:27 pm  • by Alice Miller of the Missoulian

Frisbee throwing and sit skills abounded at the eighth annual Pet Fest on Saturday in Caras Park.

One dog’s talent took the biscuit, though.

“Break it down, Slinky,” 7-year-old Robbin Stroud commanded the small, twirling dog that proceeded to do a break-dance roll in the grass.

“If I could thank everyone all at the same time, I think I would say thanks for choosing Slinky,” Stroud said.

Slinky, who came to the event with Stroud’s aunt and uncle from Helena, won the Animals with Talent contest and competed in several others during the day.

The talent contest was just one fun event in which people and their pets could compete.

“It’s kind of education through entertainment,” said Linda Baumann, who started the event with her daughter, puts it on through their Marketplace Media business.

“It’s all about responsible pet ownership,” Baumann said.

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To help people be responsible pet owners, several animal adoption agencies were on site, offering reduced-price adoptions and plenty of furry faces from which to choose.

Chase Penrose, who turns 10 next week, was at Pet Fest looking for an early birthday present.

“I just want to play with it,” he said when asked why he wants a dog.

“They’ve been crying and begging me for years for a dog,” Chase’s dad Ron Penrose said, adding he’s finally giving in.

A friend suggested the family of seven go to Pet Fest.

“It’s amazing how much these folks know and how much they’re willing to share,” he said of the volunteers who were showing off animals.

Each year, dozens of animals are adopted at the event, Baumann said.

“We usually have people waiting at 9 o’clock to adopt,” she said.

Some of the benefits of adopting through a shelter include saving money on initial vet visits, knowing the animal is spayed or neutered, and getting a microchip implant, she said.

“You’re saving a life,” said Linda Crawford, a volunteer for Life Savers Animal Rescue of Polson.

Many animals need homes, said Kelsey O’Keefe, an adoption specialist with the Humane Society of Western Montana. Most available for adoption don’t fall within people’s stereotypes of shelter pets, she said, adding that a behavior specialist and volunteers work with the animals to correct bad habits and to socialize them.“They’re great animals. They’re full of love,” O’Keefe said.

Reporter Alice Miller can be reached at 523-5251 or at alice.miller@missoulian.com.